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The Ultimate Way To Spend A Weekend In Tunisia – Itinerary!

If you’re looking for a unique destination to visit for a weekend, then Tunisia is the perfect place where you can fit a whole lot into a 2 day itinerary.

From the depths of Tunis Medina to the picturesque white and blue town of Sidi Bou Said, there is so much you can see in a short time in Tunisia!

Carthage Tunisia photography

Why Tunisia Is The Ideal Place For A Weekend Away

Tunisia is a great place to visit for the weekend as it’s cheap and affordable – plus Tunisia is so Instagrammable and photogenic!

Despite the small size of the country, there’s a real variety of architecture here, from Ancient Roman architecture to Islamic and French architecture. 

There is visa on arrival too, making it easy for visitors. Tunis Air, Turkish Airline, Emirates, Lufthansa and Air France fly to Tunis Carthage (TUN) Airport.

Tunisia tunis medina doorways

How To Get From Tunis-Carthage Airport To Downtown Tunis

After arriving to Tunis Carthage Airport, take a taxi to your accommodation. It’s the easiest and cheapest option as the airport is very close to the city!

Taxi men will try to approach you as you exit the airport, but ignore these men. They are illegally trying to charge you 5 or 6 times the fare! Instead, exit the airport, go left and cross the street.

There you can get a taxi for 4 dinar (just over £1!) and not the 20-25 dinar like the other taxi men by the airport entrance will try to! As long as the driver has the taxi metre running you won’t get ripped off as taxis in Tunis are very cheap.

Tunisia tunis photography

DAY 1 TUNISIA ITINERARY: TUNIS

Spend your first day in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. It is a really interesting and contrasting city – inside the old walled city it will feel very Arabic, yet outside the Medina, in the new city, it feels very European.

Morning: Ville Nouvelle

The trendy European Quarter in Tunis is referred to as the Ville Nouvelle ‘new city’ as the French built it and settled here during their colonisation in the 19th Century.

Visit Place de l’Indépendance (Independence Square) – the main square in Ville Nouvelle,. This is the only main square in an Arab capital that is dominated by a cathedral (Cathedral of St Vincent De Paul) as opposed to a mosque.

tunis cathedral

Place de l’Indépendance lies at the end of Avenue Habib Bourguiba – Ville Nouvelle’s main boulevard.

Avenue Habib Bourguiba feels much more French than North African: you’ll find European style facades and porticoes, European influenced architecture styles, and a boulevard of trees going down the middle.

Tunisia tunis medina photography

It still has a chaotic Maghrebi touch to it, but it feels a lot more modern here compared to in the Medina.

Head to the 10th floor of El Hana International Hotel to the rooftop bar ‘Jamaica Bar’ where you can get great views of the city.    

Afternoon: Tunis Medina

Step past the iconic Bab al Bhar gate, also known as the Porte De France (‘gate of France’) at the end of Avenue De France, and you’ll notice a big difference from Ville Nouvelle.

The gate abruptly marks the separation between the more modern European style city and the Medina – the traditional Old City of Tunis.

Tunis Medina is a walled quarter that was founded in the 7th Century. At one time, the whole city was contained within these walls. It is a must-visit when in Tunis.

Tunisia tunis medina photography

This was the beating heart of Tunis, but after the French came in the 19th Century many people moved out of the Medina and into the downtown European area Ville Nouvelle.

Walled cities like this are common within many Arabic and Middle-Eastern countries and if you haven’t visited one before you may find it a bit overwhelming or chaotic. Lots of sounds, smells and people everywhere, and a myriad of small streets and alleys.

You’ll see a few tourists, mostly locals here and you’ll definitely feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

You’ll most likely get lost within the Medina as it is very easy to lose your sense of direction as you wander through the winding streets here – it’s like a maze!

Tunisia tunis Medina coffee shop

Inside the Medina there are lots of narrow alleyways and you can easily spend an afternoon here wandering the streets and taking photographs, stopping at the coffee shops and browsing the stalls in the souk (bazaar).

You’ll find lots of spice stalls, rug shops, fruit stalls, and ceramic shops that make for interesting photographs. If you want to buy anything, remember to barter!

Bartering is part of the game for Tunisians. They will always start with a high price, so go in half of what they are saying, and then barter somewhere in the middle.

If you speak French or Italian – always speak it here in the market as they will give you lower prices than if you just speak English!

You’ll also find lots of mosques, mausoleums, fountains and palaces in the walled city, which has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status.

Tunis Medina Rooftop Cafes & Zaytouna Mosque

When you’re in Tunis Medina, make sure to visit a couple of rooftop cafes with outdoor rooftop terraces. Here you can get stunning panoramic views of the city! The two with the best views are Terrace El Bey and Cafe Panorama Medina.

They both offer stunning views over the 8th Century Zaytuna Mosque and courtyard (Zaytouna meaning ‘olive tree’).

At Terrace El Bey you’ll find a nice mosaic archway that makes for nice pictures, especially if you come up here just before sunset. 

tunis medina rooftop view

It can be a little difficult to find the entrance to both coffee shops as they are both unassuming doorways, so just ask a local to guide you – they’ll all know the way.

Both coffee shops are very close to each other (a 2 minute walk!) so you can always check out both. Here is their Google Maps location. You’ll also see just how close Zaytouna Mosque is.

When you’re finished in the rooftop cafe, make sure to check out the mosque (non worshippers can only enter the courtyard and not the Prayer Room)! The mosque looks especially impressive when it gets lit up at sunset.

tunis medina rooftop view

There are so many other coffee shops here in the Medina where you can get cheap and tasty Tunisian tea (similar to Moroccan mint tea).

Lots have seating areas out on the street that are interesting to photograph, and some even offer views looking down into the bustling streets below.

weekend in Tunis coffee shop Medina

Tunis Medina: Is It Safe After Dark?

The streets are relatively safe in Tunis Medina during the day, but make sure you are out of the Medina by the time it gets dark. Never walk the streets of Tunis Medina after dark, as this is when lots of muggings (bag/phone snatching etc) happen.

Often 2 or 3 guys will be working together and so if something happens to you, even if you chase them it will be impossible to catch them.

They know these labyrinth of alleyways like the back of their hand and will always out run you, so don’t run the risk and don’t put yourself in that position.

There are several gates to the Medina where you can exit.

Tunisia tunis medina photography

DAY 2 TUNISIA ITINERARY: Day Trips From Tunis

On day 2 of your weekend in Tunisia, take a day trip to the nearby towns of Carthage and Sidi Bou Said – two stunning and photogenic towns that can be reached by train from Tunis.

Both Carthage and Sidi Bou Said are on the same train line – the TGM light rail, with Carthage 15km from Tunis and Sidi Bou Said 18km from Tunis.

Take the TGM light rail train from Tunis Marine (located at the end of Habib Bourguiba). Do not take the train from Gare de Tunis. A single ticket costs 0.7 dinar and the journey from Tunis to Carthage takes around 25 minutes (35 minutes to Sidi Bou Said).

To visit Carthage, get off at Carthage Hannibal train station – don’t get off at Carthage Salammbo or Carthage Bysra, which are the 2 stops before Carthage Hannibal.

There are also 2 Carthage stops after Carthage Hannibal when you continue on to Sidi Bou Said, making 5 Carthage stops in total!

Morning: Carthage

The ancient city of Carthage was founded by the Phoenicians (from modern-day Lebanon) almost 3,000 years ago.

Carthage was the most important city in the Mediterranean at the time, until it fell to the Romans in the Third Punic War in 146 BC. The Romans then destroyed and rebuilt Carthage.

Carthage is a very impressive place, and what’s great is that there are hardly any tourists here! There are lots of things to do in Carthage, and it is one of the highlights of many people’s trips to Tunisia.

Carthage Tunisia photography

The area is full of Ancient Roman ruins: an ancient amphitheatre, baths, basilicas and necropolis and is a great place to visit if you’re into photography. The ruins are surrounded by lots of greenery and overlook the sea: they are located in a perfect position.

The sites in Carthage are a bit spread out so there is a fair bit of walking, but Carthage is a lovely upper class area and you’ll see lots of big fancy houses here as you walk between the attractions so it’s a nice walk!

Carthage Tunisia photography

A multi-entry ticket to all the attractions costs just 12 dinar (£3.35) – bring cash.

Here are the main sights to cover in Carthage:

Byrsa Hill

The main archeological ruins of Carthage are located on Byrsa Hill, which was where the Ancient City of Carthage was built around. You’ll need to walk uphill from the train station to get here but the views are incredible.

Roman Amphitheatre

From Byrsa Hill take a taxi over to the Roman Amphitheatre 1.5km away, constructed in the first century AD.

The Carthage Amphitheatre was one of the largest amphitheatres of the Roman Empire – able to hold 35,000 spectators!

You can wander around the amphitheatre although a lot of it is in ruin as people took the materials for other buildings in the past. You can even go into the underground parts where the animals would have been kept which is really interesting!

Carthage Tunisia photography

Antonine Baths

The Antonine Baths, also known as the Antoninus Baths or the Baths of Carthage are another must-visit in Carthage – they are so impressive to see.

These 2nd Century Roman baths are the vastest Roman Thermae built in Africa and the third largest in the Roman Empire. 

Carthage Tunisia photography

This was my favourite part of Carthage as the ruins were a lot more intact than the others. That being said, when the baths were built they were 3 levels high and adorned with cupolas.

Now only the lower level ruins remain but you can still get a really good feel of the grandeur and size of it.

Carthage Tunisia photography    

Afternoon: Sidi Bou Said

Once you have finished in Carthage get back on the train and continue up to Sidi Bou Said. 

Sidi Bou Said is a small picture-perfect town with gorgeous white and blue buildings that can easily be compared to the more famous Chefchaouen in Morocco or Santorini in Greece.

sidi bou said Tunisia photography

You’ll find many Instagrammable places just walking along the streets, and the white and blue town of Sidi Bou Said is very popular with both locals and tourists.

sidi bou said Tunisia photography

There are many unique and elaborate doorways, bougainvillaea flowers climb the walls of the buildings.

sidi bou said doorways

The market stalls at D’Art Lella Salha & Des Metiers are idyllic, selling a variety of handmade items, clothes and paintings.

sidi bou said Tunisia photography

The museum of Dar El-Annabi is definitely worth stopping at as it is really interesting and provides a look at how life was in Tunisia many years ago.

The entrance price is low and you’ll be given a cup of Tunisian mint tea to enjoy as you wander round.

sidi bou said Tunisia photography

Sidi Bou Said sits on a cliff hugging the coastline and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. There are stunning sea views here and the sunsets are just wow.

sidi bou said Tunisia photography

There are lots of cute rooftop cafes along Rue Habib Thameur such as Dar Dallaji where you can look down onto the white and blue buildings below.

sidi bou said Tunisia photography

The best place however to come for a tea and watch the sunset over the harbour is the iconic Cafe des Delices. Here is the Google maps location

The prices are a bit higher than other cafes in the area but it is worth it for the view! 

sidi bou said Tunisia photography    

La Marsa

Located just past Sidi Bou Said is La Marsa – the fancy part of town. Lots of expats live here and you’ll find lots of bars that serve alcohol. Perfect for a night out after visiting Sidi Bou Said!

What to wear in Tunisia

Tunisia is a Muslim county and women especially should dress conservatively. This means covering your arms and legs and wearing loose fitting clothes. I even recommend you to bring a scarf to cover yourself if necessary. 

When I was in the Tunis Medina, I felt so many males looking at me that I just put a scarf over my head to stop people looking at me. 

Whilst it is completely not necessary to wear a headscarf in Tunisia, I often feel more comfortable in Muslim countries wearing a scarf as it makes me stand out less and draws less attention to me.

When is the best time to visit Tunisia?

Despite being in Africa, Tunisia has a Mediterranean climate similar to southern Italy and Spain and so has 4 seasons.

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Tunisia as the weather isn’t too hot and the streets aren’t too crowded. It may be a little bit cold first thing in the morning or during the evening though so bring a jacker.

During the summer months temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius which can be a bit hot if you’re here for a city break and not sitting on a beach!

During winter temperatures might drop as low as zero degrees.

sidi bou said doorways

Female Solo Travel in Tunisia

Tunisia is relatively safe for female solo travellers providing you dress respectfully and don’t walk on the street alone after dark.

Whilst in many parts of the world it is ok to walk on the street by yourself in the evening as a woman, in many Muslim countries a woman seen alone at night can be deemed a prostitute/easy pickings.

I know this sounds hard to believe to many people who aren’t used to this kind of culture, but this is how things are here. Don’t risk something happening and don’t put yourself in a situation that could easily be avoided.

If you need to go somewhere after dark always get a taxi. Taxis are very cheap in Tunisia so there is not excuse. Safety first.